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Special Collections

We collect materials in the following concentrations. To learn more about our holdings, browse our subjects or contact a librarian.

Black student protest, University of Maryland, 1968

University Archives

The University Archives captures the day-to-day functioning of a highly complex research institution in all its many facets: administration, academics, athletics, the arts, and other student activities. The University Archives is a key resource for the history and present activities of the University of Maryland, especially the College Park campus.

Explore University Archives collections


Maryland State Capitol, Annapolis, Maryland, circa 1907-1914

State of Maryland

The State of Maryland collections include a variety of items to support the study of the many aspects of life in the state including politics, arts, sports and recreation, agriculture, among others. Whether interested in historical research or the current state of the state, you can find a multitude of resources to support your needs.

Explore State of Maryland collections


Martin Luther King Jr. on the picket line for Scripto Strike, January 15, 1965

Labor and Unions

Our labor collections are comprised of AFL-CIO Department records, trade department records, international union records, union programs, union organizations with allied or affiliate relationships with the AFL-CIO, and personal papers of union leaders. This collection also includes photographs from the 1940s to the present, audio tapes, films and videotapes, and artifacts.

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Woman adjusting record


The broadcast collections include wide-ranging resources documenting the history of commercial and noncommercial radio and television in the United States. Materials include audio and video recordings, books, pamphlets, periodicals, personal collections, oral histories, photographs, scripts and vertical files.

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Postwar Japan

The postwar Japan collections cover the years following the end of World War II through the years of the Occupation of Japan. Of particular note is the Gordon W. Prange collection, the most comprehensive archive in the world of Japanese print publications issued during the early years of the Occupation of Japan, 1945-1949. 

Explore Postwar Japan collections


Fred Erskine and Chris Farrall of Hoover, Black Cat, 1994

Performing Arts and Music

These collections include performing arts materials documenting performance practice, instruction, and scholarship. These archival sources support scholarly or genealogical research, programming of unique performances, or the creation of new works.

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Katherine Anne Porter holding a cigarette in her apartment, circa July 1950-May 1951

Literature and Rare Books

Literary special collections include both book and manuscript holdings that document the lives and work of significant literary figures. Rare books collections contain books and pamphlets dating from the 15th century to the present,  covering a variety of subjects encompassing the humanities. Collection strengths include modernist literature, Fine Press works, and the history of the book. 

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Cottage blueprint for Miss Mary W. Stewart of Oxford, Maryland, circa 1910-1930

Historic Preservation

The Libraries are home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library Collection, the largest and most comprehensive concentration of preservation materials in the United States, the collection covers subjects related to historic preservation such as archeology, architecture, law, public policy, education, planning, landscape architecture, and more.

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Our Formats

Your best bet is to begin a search using our Archival Collections database. This provides access to the widest range of material. All other databases listed below will only provide access to a more specific portion of our holdings. 

The vast majority of our books, periodicals and magazines can be found by searching the catalog. Collections of books may also be found in Archival Collections, along with periodicals and magazines that are part of archival and manuscript collections.

Most of our archives and manuscripts are described in our Archival Collections database. Because this is not a complete list of our holdings, please contact us even after you feel you have exhausted your search. You never know what our subject experts might be able to find to suit your research needs. Many primary source material, from all over the world, is available in various databases that the UMD Libraries subscribes to. Find databases by subject or name.

Most maps can be found using the Map Database but a few are also found within the catalog. Use the following links to browse map holdings.

  • Map database
    • A comprehensive collection of more than 2,500 maps depicting Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay, and the surrounding region from 1590 to the present.
  • Sanborn maps of Maryland and Washington, D.C.
    • These maps provide us with a detailed understanding of the physical make up of these cities and towns, and give us insight into the existing social, political, and economic conditions in specific places and times.
  • Research Guide to Maryland Maps

Many of our photographs can be found by searching Archival Collections. A small portion of our photographs have been digitized and made accessible in Digital Collections. Not all photograph holdings are described using these tools, please contact us to learn more about how our photographs might meet your research needs.

Audiovisual holdings can be found by searching Archival Collections. A small portion of our photographs have been digitized and accessible in Digital Collections or Avalon.

"Born-digital" refers to material whose entire lifecycle has been digital, meaning it was digital at the time and place it was created. Born-digital material includes documents, photographs, publications, audiovisual material, archived websites and many other formats.

This content can be found by searching Archival Collections, often marked with a note, "This collection contains born-digital material that has been transferred from its original storage medium". Some files may be unreadable with current technology. Contact us to make arrangements to view the electronic files.

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